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Disney's mouse ears a rite of passage

By Henry Hanks, CNN
updated 5:20 PM EDT, Sun April 14, 2013
Actress <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/08/showbiz/annette-funicello-obit/index.html'>Annette Funicello</a> died on Monday at age 70. Before her beach party movie fame, she was one of the original members of TV's "Mickey Mouse Club," and defined the term "Mouseketeer" long before Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake. She definitely made those mouse ears look cool. They've been a symbol of Disney ever since. In her honor, iReporters told us how much <a href='http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/953456/featured#stories'>those ears</a>, and the world of Disney, mean to their lives.
Actress Annette Funicello died on Monday at age 70. Before her beach party movie fame, she was one of the original members of TV's "Mickey Mouse Club," and defined the term "Mouseketeer" long before Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake. She definitely made those mouse ears look cool. They've been a symbol of Disney ever since. In her honor, iReporters told us how much those ears, and the world of Disney, mean to their lives.
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For Disney fans, mouse ears mean memories
For Disney fans, mouse ears mean memories
Disney's mouse ears a rite of passage
The mouse ears and Disney's legacy intertwine
For Disney fans, mouse ears mean memories
The mouse ears and Disney's legacy intertwine
The mouse ears and Disney's legacy intertwine
The mouse ears and Disney's legacy intertwine
The mouse ears and Disney's legacy intertwine
For Disney fans, mouse ears mean memories
For Disney fans, mouse ears mean memories
The mouse ears and Disney's legacy intertwine
For Disney fans, mouse ears mean memories
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Actress Annette Funicello, who started her career as one of the most famous Mouseketeers, died on Monday
  • Her trademark mouse ears are seen today as a symbol of fond memories around Disney movies and theme parks

(CNN) -- It all started with those Mickey Mouse ears.

Annette Funicello was a teen icon of the 1950s and '60s, beginning her career as the most famous member of the original "Mickey Mouse Club."

Aside from paving the way for future Mouseketeer stars like Britney Spears, Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, Funicello made the mouse ears something that every kid wanted to wear, and a symbol of Disney fandom for generations.

Whether they're fans of the movies, the theme parks or both, the lovers of all things Disney trace some of their fondest memories to the moments they were wearing those mouse ears, and in many cases, they've passed this down to their children as a rite of passage.

Check out the gallery above for Mickey Mouse ear memories through the years from CNN iReporters.

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